Monday, October 5, 2015

This week marks the grand opening of the Kirkwood Regional Center at the University of Iowa Research Park. There’s nothing like it in Iowa, nor anywhere else in the country.

Jean Robillard
Jean Robillard, M.D.

The center represents a unique partnership involving the university, Kirkwood Community College, and area schools. It offers a collaborative model for helping students reach their education and career goals more quickly and affordably.

Like other Kirkwood regional centers, the 100,000-square-foot UI facility focuses on High School Career Academies—half-day, on-site experiences where students explore careers while earning high school and college credit at no cost.

About 350 high schools students—mostly juniors and seniors—have enrolled in academies at the center this fall. They study engineering, business, software development, health care, technical fields, and much more.

The UI center places special emphasis on science, technology, education, and mathematics. It’s home to the southeast regional hub for the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, which develops new models for STEM education and teacher development.

The new research park location lets students learn from people and programs at the National Advanced Driving Simulator, the State Hygienic Laboratory, the Iowa Flood Center, the Center for Computer-Aided Design, and various UI colleges. The center also offers connections to the dozens of startup and established companies located at the park.

The only one of Kirkwood’s four regional centers to be connected to a university, the facility exemplifies the University of Iowa's commitment to keeping higher education affordable. Last year, Kirkwood’s career academies saved nearly 5,000 high school students almost $5 million in community college tuition.

Initiatives like this one prove that universities can pursue tested means to serve core missions while pioneering new approaches that meet student and community needs. My thanks to everyone who has made this project possible and everyone who is helping imagine its potential.

Jean Robillard, M.D.
Interim President
Vice President for Medical Affairs